Vodafone Dismisses Mobile Cancer Scare
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[London, ENGLAND] Mobile phone giant Vodafone has shrugged its corporate shoulders in the face of pending lawsuits by U.S. brain cancer victims, saying it will not be liable as it does not operate directly in the states where the suits have been launched.
Vodafone shares fell Thursday morning on reports that lawyer Peter Angelos, who helped win US $4.2 billion in damages from the tobacco industry in Maryland, will instigate ten claims against the mobile phone industry in California, Kentucky and Maryland.
In the U.S., Vodafone owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless Inc., a joint U.S. venture Verizon Communications -- one of the companies that may be affected by the suits.
On Thursday Vodafone pointed out that research sponsored by the British Government this year showed there was no link between mobile phone use and brain tumors.
Nonetheless, it is a worrying time for the mobile phone companies which have paid immense sums to governments for third generation licenses -- only to face lawsuits that will certainly take time, money and effort to defend.
"The mobile phone industry is not the tobacco industry," said Michael Caldwell, a spokesman for Vodafone.
"If there were issues to be brought to the attention of our customers we would do so immediately," said Caldwell.
Experts will now argue that the long-running but so far unproven brain cancer scare could actually benefit companies such as Vodafone in the future -- by persuading users to switch to third generation, Internet-based equipment that does not need to be held close to the head.
In the build-up to Christmas, Vodafone went on a spending spree, investing many billions of dollars in companies in Japan, Ireland and Australia. Although its share price has dipped during 2000 it has outperformed the index for European telecommunication services.